Independence Debate, Independence Referendum
Published: 30/06/2014 17:35 - Updated: 10/07/2014 10:38

Independence debate - Q&A

Written byDonna MacAllister

MSP Mary Scanlon
MSP Mary Scanlon

We have enlisted Mary Scanlon, Conservative MSP for the Highlands and Islands and Richard Laird, deputy leader of the SNP group in Highlands and Islands, to answer your questions.


The first question for our panel is on borders.

Q:  The SNP is expected to alter its immigration policy to get more people into the country for a stronger economy if it wins the vote. But the current Tory government is working to reduce immigration and as a result of changes already implemented, there are now 70,000 fewer people coming to the United Kingdom annually than in recent years.. How can that work without borders and checkpoints between the two countries?

Mary Scanlon:

"The SNP constantly criticise the current UK immigration policy which is to bring down net migration to tens of thousands, rather than hundreds of thousands. The SNP has pledged to increase immigration and reverse the UK policy to reduce the number of immigrants. These clearly opposing immigration Policies would therefore require a form of border control between Scotland and England as people would simply access the UK through Scotland.

Given the two distinctly separate immigration policies North and South of the border, the only conclusion to be drawn is the need for border controls otherwise people could simply access the UK through Scotland. The SNP White Paper states that they ‘plan to continue in the current Common Travel Area with the rest of the UK, but this would not be possible as their policy would be different. There are no border controls between the UK and Ireland because the Irish Government has replicated UK immigration policy.

Councillor Richard Laird
Councillor Richard Laird

Richard Laird

"The Common Travel Area between the United Kingdom and Ireland has operated well since it was established in the 1920s. It has allowed both states to adopt different immigration policies without the need for border controls and both governments         reiterated their support for this principle as recently as 2011. Most recent immigration into the UK has come from other states within the European Union, as citizens of such states take advantage of the freedom of movement the EU allows. This is a  fundamental principle of the EU and one that every state must adhere to for as long as it remains a member. For immigrants from outwith the EU, the UK uses a points-based system intended to encourage those who bring particular skills to migrate here.

An independent Scotland will remain part of the Common Travel Area. Scotland will continue to use a points-based system for non-EU immigration, but it will focus on our economic requirements. While this will produce a different policy to that of the remainder of the UK, it would not require border controls to be introduced between here and the remainder of the UK."


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